ALAN LORIMER @ Riverside Park
WATSONIANS confirmed their number one position in Scottish club 7s rugby after taking the honours in the Jed-Forest tournament at Riverside a week after being crowned Kings of the 7s at Selkirk.
“I think the boys have shown tremendous character,” said the Watsonians coach Conan Sharman, who played sevens for Scotland over two seasons. “There are teams who have been hot on our tails but this win today ended it all nicely.”
Watsonians had to battle past a nuggety Kelso side in the opening tie before winning narrowly by 10-7, but in the quarter-finals the Myresiders had time to admire the view at Riverside Park as they swept past Hamilton. Then, in the first of the semi-finals, they faced their Edinburgh neighbour and runners-up in the Kings competition, Boroughmuir, a team that has brought a huge amount to the Borders circuit this season.
Watsonians led 7-5 from a try by Ben Robbins, converted by Ali Harris, to a Jonny Matthews score for Boroughmuir, but two touchdowns from Josh Rowlands and a second conversion by Harris settled the tie despite a second half response from Greg Cannie and the conversion by Gavin Parker.
For their part, Jed came through the lower half of the draw by overpowering Musselburgh in the first round and then showing excellent form in defeating Melrose in the last of the quarters to book a place in the semi-finals against Edinburgh Accies.
Tries for Jed by Lewis Young, Monty Mitchell and Rory Marshall propelled the host club into a 17-0 lead early in the second half, but touchdowns from Ruairi Campbell and Robbie Kent brought Accies back into contention. Jed, however, responded with a second try from Lewis Young, which was answered by Jamie Sole, but it was too late to prevent Jed from progressing to the final.
In the final, Watsonians effectively had the tie won by half-time when they led 19-0 with a brace of tries by Robbins and one from Lewis Berg, plus two conversions from the influential Harris. Then in the second half the burly Berg completed his hat-trick with two further tries. Jed’s sole points coming from a late score by Rory Marshall.
“Watsonians thoroughly deserve to be Kings of the 7s. They were very consistent and they have a very good squad,” said Jed’s director of rugby, Kevin Barrie. “For us, it’s been disappointing not winning anything this season. It was difficult today after we got injuries to our captain Gregor Young and to Monty Mitchell. The other point is that we were hampered this season by having to play fifteens rugby in April.”
Elsewhere at Jed, Gala showed a welcome return to form, knocking out Heriot’s in the first round and then pushing Edinburgh Accies hard before losing 19-12 to the Raeburn Place side. Hawick, too, showed a bit of grit in their first round tie against Boroughmuir, whose experience and confidence gained from competing on the circuit, took them to a 14-5 win over the Greens.
First round: Kelso 7 Watsonians 10, Peebles 5 Hamilton 38, Hawick 5 Boroughmuir 14, Langholm 5 Border Park 38, Selkirk 0 Edinburgh Accies 45, Gala 19 Heriot’s 14, Melrose 38 Berwick 0, Jed-Forest 38 Musselburgh 0.
Quarter-finals: Watsonians 44 Hamilton 5, Boroughmuir 38 Border Park 12, Edinburgh Accies 19 Gala 12, Melrose 7 Jed-Forest 24.
Semi-finals: Watsonians 19 Boroughmuir 12, Edinburgh Accies 19 Jed-Forest 24
Final: Watsonians Jed-Forest.
Watsonians: C McKill, E MIller, D Gillespie, A Harris, A Skeen, L Berg, J Rowland, C Bell, B Robbins, H Fisher.
Jed-Forest: R Yourston, G Munro, C Young, R Marshall, L Young, G Law, R Shirra-Gibb, R Mills, J Sole.
Referee: G Ormiston